The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me [the crown of righteousness] …
2 Timothy 4:8
Ralph Waldo Emerson and his son were struggling to get a calf to step into the barn. They tried poking, prodding, pushing, but the calf would not move. Suddenly a servant girl shuffled by, and by thrusting her finger into the animal’s mouth, she lured him into the barn.
The business world is built on the device of promise of reward for productive work. After a week’s hard work, we receive the reward of a paycheck. We may also receive other benefits, such as health insurance and vacation time. Work that will be rewarded gets done.
God uses the promise of reward to motivate Christians as well. Heaven, the gift of everlasting life in the presence of the eternal God, is an awesome reward for all who serve God. When the work is strenuous, the obstacles are foreboding, and our courage is waning, God reminds us of the reward we will receive in heaven.
Picture the crown of righteousness that God wants to place on your head. Imagine the throne being prepared for you to reign with Christ. Visualize the banquet table where all of God’s family will feast forever.
But the reward is also a gift; it’s already been earned for us by Christ. And as he offers it freely, we already begin to live the new life that we’ll receive fully in God’s presence. The reward of the life to come summons us to give our best and to win the race here on earth.
We praise you, Lord, for the sure promises of reward in the life to come. Help us to faithfully run the race for you, depending on your power to see us through. In Jesus, Amen.
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